COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

By Celine Bennion

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us in more ways than just illness itself. From strict isolation measures to mask mandates, several necessary health protocols have changed the way we carry out our daily lives. This is especially true for college students who were forced to transition to online learning, shifting the established routines they once knew.

At the onset of the pandemic, students residing on campus were forced out of their dorms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Without a place to stay on campus, they moved back home, forcing a drastic change in living situations. Even commuter students had to adjust to new norms, as they were no longer allowed to study on campus. With siblings also engaged in online school and parents working from home, their learning environment quickly changed from a quiet classroom to a bustling household. These changes posed several challenges, as many students found it increasingly difficult to stay focused in lectures and successfully absorb the material they were presented with.

Additionally, because students could not be present on campus, they were no longer able to engage in everyday social interactions. Meeting up with friends to study, attending club meetings, and participating in sports were no longer an option after transitioning to remote learning. These fundamental social interactions are vital for college students to maintain their wellbeing and to properly develop as individuals.

The major academic and social changes that transpired due to the pandemic led to a serious rise in reports of mental health challenges. According to a 2020 Active Minds survey on college students, about 75% of respondents indicated that their mental health had declined during the pandemic. Students specifically reported increased levels of anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and stress. With the many changes that students quickly had to manage, these feelings are understandable.

The rise of mental health challenges has prompted numerous universities to initiate changes to the psychological services that are offered to students. Many students have access to Telehealth counseling sessions and other mental health resources through their university. These resources allow students to obtain proper assistance for navigating their personal challenges.

It is essential that universities acknowledge the struggles their students are facing and make appropriate changes to support them through this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/education/2021/09/13/nj-colleges-covid-student-burnout-stress-mental-health-toll/5716116001/

https://online.maryville.edu/blog/stress-in-college-students-recognize-understand-and-relieve-school-stress/ (photo)

Depression and Anxiety Post Retirement

By: Ashley Marron

While many people look forward to retirement and its freedom, it can also trigger anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, the chance of a person facing clinical depression increases by 40% after retirement. People tend to give lots of thought when planning their retirement; whether it’s traveling the world, pursuing new hobbies, or spending more time with family and friends. However, they often overlook the psychological impact of retiring from work. While many new retirees find retiring to be a great relief from escaping the daily grind, they also find that after several months they may miss the sense of identity, meaning, and purpose that came with their job. They lose the structure that their job gave their days, as well as the social-aspect of having co-workers. Retirees may now feel bored and isolated, rather than free, relaxed and fulfilled. They may even grieve the loss of their old life, and feel stressed or worried about how they will now spend the future.

Retiring is a major life change, and it can seriously take a toll on one’s mental health. Seeking help from a professional can help provide coping mechanisms with these challenges of retirement. Therapy can also help in the treatment of depression and anxiety. There are certainly healthy ways to adjust to this new chapter in your life, and it should be an exciting time, not a negative experience. Therapy can help to ensure that your retirement is both rewarding and happy.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression or anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/          

Sources

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/post-retirement-depression-recognizing-the-signs/ss-BB1fWAss

Image Source

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/post-retirement-depression-recognizing-the-signs/ss-BB1fWAss

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

By Celine Bennion

As you scroll through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it may seem as though everyone you know uses at least one popular social media platform to share and connect with others. Social interaction is a key element for proper functioning and survival of humans. With modern technology, people can stay connected even when separated by physical distance, especially through social media. Despite their ability to maintain vital connections, social media platforms are known to engender mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as overall negative feelings in users.

As social media has gained popularity, more individuals find themselves bypassing face-to-face social interactions and scrolling through social media profiles instead. This lack of genuine social connection can create feelings of loneliness, increasing the likelihood of users developing mental health issues. Additionally, social media platforms can harm one’s self identity, creating pressure to live up to others’ expectations or perceptions.

Social media is a stage for constant comparison to others. Whether it is related to appearance, materialistic items, or personal accomplishments, users can easily find themselves longing for what others possess. Modern editing software that enables users to easily distort their features in photos creates an unrealistic basis of comparison for those who believe this appearance is natural. Additionally, it is very uncommon for users to post about negative events in their lives, creating a false perception of a “perfect life” as others view their profile.

If social media is often causing individuals to feel bad, why do they continue using it? A major contributor to continued social media usage is the fear of missing out, or FOMO. FOMO occurs when individuals feel that they may miss out on connections such as jokes, invitations, and connections. This fear can cause significant anxiety, especially for those who thrive off of connection with others. Additionally, biological implications are involved in users’ attraction to social media platforms. The continuous presentation of novel content triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that elicits feelings of pleasure. This fluctuation in dopamine levels leaves users craving the pleasurable feelings associated with scrolling, giving social media an addictive nature.

As you scroll through social media platforms, it is important to be mindful of the content you are consuming and discontinue interaction with content that causes negative feelings to arise.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364393/

https://lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/2021/september/the-effects-of-social-media-on-mental-health

https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/2021/10/15/challenge-offers-2-500-stay-off-social-media/8469387002/ (photo)

Suicide Grief

Suicide Grief

By: Michaela Reynolds

Losing a loved one by suicide can be overwhelming and heart wrenching. Grief in response to suicide can be complicated. You may be consumed with guilt and wonder to yourself if you could have done something to prevent their death. Feelings of anger, shame, guilt, regret and blame are very common, but it can make it hard for you to talk about their death due to stigma that is associated with it. It is important to note that there is NO right way to grieve losing a loved one to suicide!

In the aftermath, you may feel like you will never enjoy life again. To be honest, you may always wonder why it happened and experience reminders that can trigger painful feelings. However, the intensity of your grief will fade as time goes on but will probably never fully pass. In the meantime, it is beneficial for you to adopt healthy coping mechanisms. Such as:

  • Keep in touch with loved ones, friends, and other supporters
  • Don’t rush yourself
  • Consider a support group for families affected by suicide
  • Grieve in your own way
  • Expect setbacks
  • Be prepared for painful reminders

It important for you to understand the following: You should accept that some things are beyond your control, separate responsibility from blame, and understand that anyone can miss the warning signs.

If you are someone or you know someone who appears to be suffering from suicide grief, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/after-a-suicide-loss/suicide-and-grief#:~:text=Grief%20in%20response%20to%20suicide,the%20stigma%20associated%20with%20suicide.

Image:

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

Accessibility: “Telemental” Health Care

By Celine Bennion

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health care providers were forced to make changes that would allow them to continue seeing patients while maintaining safety guidelines. Thus, the implementation of Telehealth and other platforms skyrocketed! These resources allow providers to connect with patients by video conferences or phone calls when they cannot be in the same location. Therefore, they can conduct therapy and psychiatric counseling sessions similar to those that are done in-person.

Despite the initial intent to use Telehealth as a temporary solution in the midst of a pandemic, many providers plan to continue using the platform. Several benefits surfaced during the first months of necessity for both providers and patients. For example, Telehealth sessions remove the need for transportation, making treatment more accessible to patients, especially those with frequent conflicts (childcare, work, etc.) or those who live a considerable distance away from a preferred provider.

Providers have also noted that many patients, especially children, feel more comfortable participating in therapy sessions online. In a familiar setting, such as their home, patients may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, leading to greater treatment progress. Additionally, virtual appointments allow therapists to gain insight into a patient’s home life and environment, including relationships with other members of the household. This access can give clues in determining information that may not be easily stated by the patient, such as domestic abuse.

Telehealth and other virtual health care platforms became popular out of necessity but will continue to affect mental health care long after the COVID-19 pandemic concludes.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy via Telehealth, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.nami.org/Advocacy/Policy-Priorities/Improving-Health/Telehealth

Mental Health Care Was Severely Inequitable, Then Came the Coronavirus Crisis

https://khn.org/news/article/no-cancel-culture-how-telehealth-is-making-it-easier-to-keep-that-therapy-session/ (photo)

Helping Children Deal with Grief

Helping Children Deal with Grief

By: Michaela Reynolds

Losing a loved one is inevitable and can be one of the most difficult times in life. Sadly, you cannot protect your children from the pain of the loss, but you can help them build healthy coping skills. The grieving process will look different to everyone, but it is especially different with children compared to adults. For example, preschool children will most likely view death as temporary and reversible. This is because cartoon character’s death in TV shows or movies usually will die and come back to life. While children between the ages of 5-9 will start to think of death like adults do. However, they will view death as rare and not something that will happen to them.

It is important to help the child express feelings about the death. A way to do this is by reading the child books about death, telling stories or looking at pictures of the person who died. It is also important for you to express your own sadness and make them aware that it is okay to be sad at this time. Offer your support and comfort when you can, while also encouraging them to ask any questions or talk about their feelings.

It is normal that the following weeks after the death for the child to feel immediate grief or believe that the person is still alive. However, long-term denial or avoidance of grief can be unhealthy and can lead to severe future problems.

Signs of children experiencing serious problems with grief:

  • Extended period of depression: a child loses interest in daily activities
  • Loss of appetite, inability to sleep, and prolonged fear of being alone
  • Excessive imitation of the person who died
  • Acting much younger for an extended period of time
  • Believing they are talking to or seeing the person who died
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Sharp drop in school performance or refusal to attend

If these signs persist, please seek professional help; a child and adolescent mental health professional will be able to help your child accept and properly grieve the death.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for the loss of a loved one, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/  

Sources:

https://childmind.org/article/helping-children-deal-grief/

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Grief-008.aspx

Image: https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/issues/supporting-child-through-grief-and-loss

Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

By Celine Bennion

Have you ever had a bad day at school or work, felt irritable and discouraged, then came home to your pet greeting you with such enthusiasm that you forgot about your unpleasant day? Animals’ unconditional, loving nature has the power to instantly change a person’s mood, or even just help him or her feel better in general. This ability is utilized in therapeutic settings for those who struggle with mental disorders, as animals can facilitate healing in those afflicted.

Therapy animals are trained to exhibit certain mannerisms that are essential for providing therapeutic benefits to humans. These characteristics include gentleness, friendliness, and willingness to allow strangers to touch and interact with them. Pet owners may enroll their animals in such training to become registered in an official therapy animal organization. This certification allows therapy animals to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other institutions to provide comfort and companionship to those with whom they interact.

When a therapy animal is present in therapy sessions, patients feel more inclined to communicate and discuss difficult experiences. Additionally, they often experience an increase in self-esteem while in the presence of therapy animals. Individuals often find it difficult to disclose personal and emotional information with a stranger, which holds them back from receiving all of the benefits of psychotherapy. Therapy animals help to provide a sense of comfort, giving unconditional affection and creating a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Their presence makes it easier for patients to let down their guard and speak about their difficult experiences.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: https://medicalmutts.org/our-service-dogs/psychiatric-service-dogs/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2016/The-Power-of-Pet-Therapy

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-truth-about-animal-assisted-therapy#1

Trauma: The Impact of Inter-generational Trauma

The concept of intergenerational trauma was first recognized in 1966, by Canadian psychiatrist Vivian M. Rakoff, MD, when she discovered high rates of psychological distress among children of Holocaust survivors. Intergenerational trauma is trauma that isn’t just experienced by one person but extends from one generation to the next. Some of the examples are domestic violence, alcohol and drug, refugees, and survivors of combat/war trauma.

Trauma affects genetic processes, possibly by   epigenetic mechanisms affecting DNA function or gene transcription. Furthermore, microglia is the brain’s immune system. When in a constant trauma reactive state, microglia can eat away at the nerve instead of enhancing growth, which then can lead to genetic changes. Researchers have much to discover about its impact and how it looks within certain populations.  

Everyone is susceptible to intergenerational trauma, but there are specific populations that are vulnerable due to their histories. For instance, populations that have been systematically exploited endured continuous abuse, racism, and poverty. Like survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Asia or African Americans in the United States

A wide range of behaviors were observed in the offspring of Holocaust survivors: feelings of over‐identification and fused identity with parents, impaired self‐esteem stemming from minimization of offspring’s own life experiences in comparison to the parental trauma, tendency towards catastrophizing, worry that parental traumas would be repeated, a sense of a shorten future, mistrust and behavioral disturbances such as experiencing anxiety, traumatic nightmares, dysphoria, guilt, hypervigilance and difficulties in interpersonal functioning. Trauma can mask itself through learned beliefs, behaviors, and patterns that can become engrained.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for intergenerational trauma, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://www.health.com/condition/ptsd/generational-trauma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127768/

Illustration by therapist Ayan Mukherjee

Couple’s Counseling: How to know When You and Your Partner Should Attend

Couple’s counseling is a form of psychotherapy that is focused on helping the couple better understand their relationship, overcome challenges in a healthy and effective way, and develop better ways of relating to and communicating with one another. Couple’s counseling is for any couple whether they are married, non-married, polyamorous, monogamous, long-distance, or in an open relationship. There are many areas that couple’s counseling can help with such as infidelity, challenges related to sex and intimacy, difficulty communicating with one another, and financial issues and concerns. An issue such as infidelity can be very difficult to overcome considering it causes there to be a lack of trust; however, many couples find that after attending couple’s counseling they come back stronger than before.

There are some key signs of when it is time to see a therapist as a couple. If you and your partner are considering splitting up, if you are feeling stuck on how to resolve a reoccurring conflict, or you and your partner are experiencing an extreme stressor which is affecting the relationship such as an affair or recently having a baby, then it may be time to seek help together. Couple’s counseling does not always have to be as a result of a failing relationship. Many couples go to counseling together in an effort to continue to strengthen and build their relationship. If your partner is not interested in seeking therapy together, individual services are also available and can be beneficial if you need support.

If you and your partner are seeking couple’s counseling, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/when-to-go-to-couples-therapy-and-how-long-it-takes-to-work

https://zencare.co/therapy-type/couples-counseling

Image Source

Depression: How Does it Affect Relationships

By: Jasmyn Cuate

Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness that Americans struggle with each day affecting approximately 1 in 6 Americans. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, irritability, angry outbursts, or low frustration tolerance, loss of interest in or ability to enjoy usual activities, sleep disturbance, fatigue and lack of energy, appetite disturbance, agitation, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating, remembering things, making decisions, recurring thoughts of death, and thoughts of suicide.

Many individuals struggling with depression describe it as living in a heavy fog where you lose clarity about your life, start to have self-doubt, changing the way you view friends, family, and partners as well as how you think they view you.

Although many relationships experience problems, a partner dealing with depression or trying to help their partner overcome depression, may find themselves having more challenges to their relationship. Depression can cause overwhelming emotions such as detachment, distrust, and vulnerability. It can cause the partner to pay little attention to the other partner, be less involved, more irritable, start arguments, and have trouble enjoying time together. Factors such as high levels of conflict, lack of communication, difficulty resolving problems, and withdrawal can lead to depression.

Untreated depression can cause a cycle of self-destructive behaviors that can tear relationships apart. Research has shown that when one member of a couple has depression, there is an impact on the well-being of the other partner as well. In fact, BMC Public Health has found that partners of those with mental illnesses, show signs of anxiety and depression themselves.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression or experiencing relationship problems due to depression, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/depression/signs-depression

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-warning-signs-that-depression-is-affecting-your-relationship/